• Small room, big vibe: Maurice Terzini and Joe Vargetto open anticipated brutalist Italian diner Cucina Povera. Behind Icebergs and Mister Bianco respectively, they’ve gone back to their Italian roots, channelling the garages of their youth – where their families made wine, hung salami and had a hell of a time doing it.

• First Look: Hareruya, a sunny Japanese eatery with full-to-the-brim bento boxes and mochi-wrapped gelato. The roller door goes up at 10.30am, and it’s worth getting in early to secure your picnic-ready lunch and Japanese-inspired gelato – from the owner of popular Melbourne cafes Le Bajo and 279.

• From their farm to your table: the Tanaka team goes full circle at Fenton, its new neighbourhood bistro. Just a few doors down from the treasured Carlton grocer is this warm, welcoming, community-minded new spot – where almost everything you’ll find on your plate is grown by the people who run it.

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• If Hobbiton was reimagined as a grandiose wine country destination, the Yarra Valley’s Hubert Estate would be it. The multimillion-dollar revamp of St Hubert’s winery rises out of the ground in Lord of the Rings-like style, making it an essential weekend trip – just an hour from Melbourne. There’s an elegant restaurant by an ex-Tonka and Mamasita chef, a cellar door with views for days and an Aboriginal art gallery. But a whole lot more is to come.

• First Look: Osteria Renata is a handsome Italian diner – with a “pasta lab” – by the Park Street team. Look for the lush olive-green facade on High Street in Prahran. Then step inside the light-filled space for cacio e pepe gnocchi fritti, extravagant rock lobster spaghetti and plenty of European charm.

• A look inside: follow the scent of wood fire to find Mr Miyagi in the Big Smoke – here for a good time, not a long time. The south-side favourite has crossed the river and moved into QT Melbourne’s Hot Sauce Laneway for six weeks: visit for a fire-powered menu of never-before-served dishes (including a theatrical salmon served in a smoke-filled cloche) with the same playful twists on Japanese cuisine.

• Now open: it’s deluxe sashimi platters and nori Martinis at Ototo, Akaiito’s new underground izakaya. The space was once an extension of the Japanese fine diner on Flinders Lane, but now it’s got its own identity – and menu. Follow the luminous red thread downstairs for pan-Asian snacks and cocktails.

• At the old Press club site, new Indian diner Elchi walks the line between classic and contemporary. With extravagant dishes like fragrant chicken mussallam topped with 24-carat gold leaf.

• First Look: Flatbread is the hero – not the sidekick – at fiery new Northcote eatery Spitjack. Chewy, charry and hand-rolled, it’s loaded with your choice of flame-licked meats or veggies. Plus, go for epic Sunday roasts once a month and a dramatic, caramelised “burnt custard” dessert.

• On an industrial side street, Fieldwork is a new neighbourhood micro-bakery and coffee shop. It’s the rebrand of established coffee roaster Bureaux – right opposite Moon Dog OG in Abbotsford.

• Now open: Queensmith Baretto is a new – but delightfully retro – espresso and wine bar for the city. Swing by bright and early for coffee and pastries, or after 3pm there’s $13 cocktails and complimentary bar snacks. Also on the menu: gooey cacio e pepe toasties with four different types of cheese.

• First Look: The bento boxes and chirashi bowls are ready-made at Melbourne’s slick new pan-Asian grocer Pantre. Also find cheesy made-to-order Wagyu brisket toasties and fluffy Japanese cheesecake and choux buns baked fresh daily. It’s the latest from the team behind inventive Box Hill eatery Zero Mode.

• First Look: Dive into the deep end at this new pizza joint – where chunky, cheesy Chicago-style pies rule. Chances are you haven’t tried one of these in Melbourne before. “It’s a very decadent, once-in-a-while option, but one that is sure to get people’s attention,” says chef and co-owner Paul Kasten. Want to avoid the cheese coma? There’s also New York thin crust (go for the clam pie) and Detroit deep dish.

• The new belle of the Bellarine: inside Victoria’s beautifully refurbished Portarlington Grand Hotel. Beeline for this 134-year-old coastal gem, check in to one of 18 elegant new rooms (some with bay-view balconies), then head downstairs to the charming bistro for a pot brimming with the town’s famous mussels.

• Shoot for the sky at Melbourne’s ritzy new CBD bar – with a “floating” outdoor lounge – 40 floors up. Sky Bar has uninterrupted 360-degree views across the city, fancy snacks like foie gras macarons and braised venison croquettes, and a moody adjoining restaurant if you really want to push the boat out.